Top Treasury adviser called for fewer cops, race-based policy

The vice chair of a newly minted Treasury Department advisory group to “advance racial equity in the economy” has called for “reducing” police budgets, doing away with for-profit prisons and cash bail, and proposed that race should “always” be a consideration when making policy. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced the formation Tuesday of the 25-member “Advisory Committee on Racial Equity,” led by former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and vice chair Felicia Wong, the president and CEO of the liberal Roosevelt Institute think tank.

“The Committee will identify, monitor, and review aspects of the domestic economy that have directly and indirectly resulted in unfavorable conditions for communities of color,” the Treasury Department said in a statement. “The Committee plans to address topics including but not limited to: financial inclusion, access to capital, housing stability, federal supplier diversity, and economic development.”

Before joining the Roosevelt Institute in 2012, Wong was an executive at the Democracy Alliance, which counts left-wing billionaire George Soros among its founders. 

Wong co-authored a report that said that race and the economy are intrinsically linked.
Robert Mecea

In November of last year, the institute released a report co-authored by Wong, insisting that the “old paradigms” that “excluded and divided” are out of date and that new ones are emerging in “racial liberalism’s wake.”

The report laid out a series of core values that are characteristic of “today’s racial justice movement.”

“These demands acknowledge what neoliberalism and racial liberalism never did: Race and the economy are inextricably linked. Racism shapes our economic rules and institutions, and those rules and institutions drive racist outcomes​,” it read.

Later in the report, Wong and co-author Kyle Strickland talked about an “approach to policymaking … that would center race and racial justice.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced the formation of the 25-member “Advisory Committee on Racial Equity.”
Getty Images

“Because our racial disparities are so severe across all elements of the American economy and society, no policy, even if facially race-neutral, is race-neutral in practice​,” they wrote.

“The design of all policy proposals—big and small—must be attentive to racial outcomes. All policy, from vaccine distribution to higher education funding to tax reform, will have racialized effects. Recognizing this reality, and always considering race in policy design, is therefore vital,” the report said​, echoing a sentiment expressed by Vice President Kamala Harris last week when she suggested Hurricane Ian recovery aid would be distributed “based on equity.” 

“True equity means equity of outcome, and not accepting the promise of ‘opportunity’ within a system that continues to systematically exclude,” ​the authors wrote. “It demands redistribution of resources​ ​—​ ​especially when wealth for some has been extracted from many—and a redistribution of decision-making power.”​

Meanwhile, a 2016 institute report that Wong participated in faulted the criminal justice system that “disproportionately” affects black Americans.

That report noted that “police budgets should be reduced and for-profit systems must be done away with” — four years before the “defund the police” movement gained steam after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis officers in May 2020.

“A key lever for reform is removing the money that fuels a corrupt justice system. Policies from the War on Drugs coupled with the recent militarization of police forces after 9/11 have perpetuated and sustained massive investments in policing. Non-custodial forms of policing—such as fines, fees, and other economic penalties—affect more individuals and their families than physical confinement and are often used as revenue-generators for cities and counties,” the report said.

The report also suggested that Congress reform the cash bail system, similar to recent action by New York’s lawmakers that critics say has caused a spike in crime.

Fox News first reported on Wong’s writings Wednesday. 

The Roosevelt Institute directed Fox News, which reached out for comment, to Wong’s statement in the Treasury Department release. ​

“​Any efforts to address inequality in the United States must account for the legacy of racial exclusion built into our economy,” she said. “I look forward to working with this distinguished group of leaders to propose ways to harness Treasury’s power and authority to redress these harms, toward a more just and equitable future​.”​

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